Jump to content
BC Boards

Directional Cues (Left, Rights)


Recommended Posts

I had a thought that entered my mind today when running my girl in class. As she gains confidence in the "game" she is getting faster. On the drive home I was toying with the idea of putting in directional cues, such as left/right. Then I decided I'd probably butcher them and perhaps I'll just stick with my body language.

 

So what do you use? Directionals, body language, mix of both, something else?

 

Thanks!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't use verbal directionals. I've trained them, somewhat, and I have tried to use them, but I generally end up getting my directions mixed up. I try to talk to my dog(s) on course as little as possible, because my voice is the last thing they are paying attention to anyway. And when I DO speak, I want the dog to listen! If I am handling correctly, even if the dog is very fast, I've set him up where I want him to go already and speaking is superfluous. I think it's more important to get lateral working distance than it is to get a dog to respond to verbal cues.

 

I wish I had known about the importance of training foundation work / flat work back when I started my other dogs. At 11 months, Dexter will already respond to a shoulder twitch and do rear crosses etc. on flat ground and I'm transitioning it to jumps now and he's doing really well. My other dogs had a steeper learning curve for sure and when I was babbling at them on course, it was because my handling actually sucked and I overcompensated for it by talking to them.

 

The only place where I could see verbal directionals being handy is in gamble work, but again I feel if you have distance on your dog, you can still for the most part direct them with your body language. Although I was a trial recently where in the closing gamble the dog had to go over the frame and then flip out to the right to a tunnel under the frame. A lot of dogs came off the frame and took the dummy jump dead ahead of them instead. My friend Mary's dog Avis came down the frame and Avis went straight for the dummy jump and Mary hollered "STOP" - and Avis stopped dead, in the middle of collecting herself for take-off. And then Mary flipped her out to the right to go back to the correct tunnel. I was dead impressed! But I teach a solid 2o2o too, so that kind of verbal command ("stop") would not have been necessary for me. I still secretly want one though ;-)

 

RDM

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have friends who use "left" and "right" quite successfully and it does come in handy quite often for them. But personally, I *REALLY* struggle to maintain the ability to remember which is which while running, so I haven't even tried to teach a specific left & right turning cue.

 

I have a generic, "Switch" command that means, "change direction and turn away from me." This is something that anyone who does NADAC absolutely needs to have in their bag to be successful at even the Novice level of Chances. Teaching switch starts with rear crosses and I start adding distance as their understanding of the word progresses. I don't always use the word switch when doing rear crosses in their standard form -- My dog, Luke, is a bar knocker and if I verbally say, "Switch" at the wrong time (as I'm prone to do...) he will knock bars... With him, the body language of crossing behind him is plenty. With the other two it varies and depends on the layout of the course.

 

Any time the turn involves coming in my general direction, I use "come" or "here" depending on the severity of the turn. "Come" tends to be for a bit tighter turn. One-eighty degree turns out of a tunnel have a "tight" command, so that they don't go shooting out into outer space and blow the turn.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the input thus far. :D

 

My handling is more along the lines of body language. I don't talk to my dogs throughout the course and will only say something if needed, like if there is a tunnel/contact obstacle discrimination -- I may use the word to help emphasize what it is I want. My dogs are all pretty good at discrimination though. I never use the word here, come, etc. I may say that dogs name softly in say a tunnel or a chute which helps them find me easier, especially if I RC it.

 

I would be the one who screws up directionals....say left when I mean right, etc. I screw up my come-bye and away commands all the time when we work sheep. :rolleyes: I was using a "switch" command but my timing can sometimes be off. Stella is still very much a babydog and we are just now getting good distance. We ran a pretty difficult course today with a lot of turns and rear crosses which is where I got the idea of using a left and right....

 

Still on the fence though as I believe more in the "shut up and run" handling style...but then it sure would be nice to have a plan C.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Any time the turn involves coming in my general direction, I use "come" or "here" depending on the severity of the turn. "Come" tends to be for a bit tighter turn. One-eighty degree turns out of a tunnel have a "tight" command, so that they don't go shooting out into outer space and blow the turn.

 

I didn't teach real directional commands to my little mongrel - got away with Come (towards me) and Back (away from me) until she got to the top level of competition and courses got considerably harder.

 

Since I couldn't safely work her at the distances we were used to and would never be fast enough to be close enough to steer with body language I had to pass her on to my daughter, who is much faster than I am.

 

My next dog I was determined to teach right and left for the times I would be left floundering in his wake. Unfortunately he was put off agility at an early age through being attacked and I never really needed it.

 

Our latest agility dog is my daughter's BC and she uses This for right and Back for left. For some strange reason, many people find it easier to use words other than Right and Left in terms of spatial awareness. Maybe it's because right and left have too many uses whereas other cues of choice are agility specific.

 

It's worked great for him, but he is particularly responsive to verbal cues. I would have been wasting my breath with my BC mix as he is totally into physical cues to the point where I used to suspect that he might have hearing problems.

 

Pam

Link to post
Share on other sites
I never use the word here, come, etc.

 

And I know someone with an Agility Champion whose only (frequent) cues are the dog's name and/or "Come here".

 

There really is no right or wrong, only the effective application of whichever approach is chosen.

 

Pam

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not allowed to use "come" or "here" as my teacher yells at me when I do ;-) "Tweed!" means look to me for a cue. If I want him to come to me, I square up to him. If I want him to keep distance, I use my arm to keep him out. The only things I am allowed to say are his name, and obstacle discrimination so he doesn't fly off a teeter or something.

 

Tweed has fantastic distance work, and I suspect he often reads the course maps before we go out as he has an uncanny intuitive sense of flow. Piper has traditionally been glued to my feet so distance has been her biggest challenge. She definitely did not have the confidence to work away from me ... but she's getting it. Talking to her tends to bring her back to me, so I try not to do it.

 

RDM

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not allowed to use "come" or "here" as my teacher yells at me when I do ;-) "Tweed!" means look to me for a cue. If I want him to come to me, I square up to him. If I want him to keep distance, I use my arm to keep him out. The only things I am allowed to say are his name, and obstacle discrimination so he doesn't fly off a teeter or something.

 

It's nice to hear another person has a trainer similar to mine! :D She makes us stop and redo it if we use "here", "come", or the dogs name a million times if used as a call off. Those are the rules in our class. :D It has made me a better handler, but boy was it tough starting out to shutup and just run. But my body language has gotten much better because of it.

 

I can see where she is coming from as I have seen at trials people run the whole course saying:

 

"FIDO! COME. Jump. Jump. FIIIIIIIIIIIIIDOOOOOO. Here. Tunnel. HERE HERE! Jump. Ju......Coooooooooooooooome! Jump!". :D That is taking it to the extreme but I have seen it numerous times. :D

 

I do see that having a switch/back or something to the equivalent would be beneficial to those with fast dogs who can't keep up. I (luckily!!!) am not to that point yet. Stella is fast, but I can still keep up. But I would like to plan ahead for when/if she does become super quick and I cannot keep up. I think I could remember back/switch instead of left/right. Maybe. :rolleyes:

 

I'm interested to here other methods as to directionals when the dog is fast and how others handle it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not allowed to use "come" or "here" as my teacher yells at me when I do ;-) "Tweed!" means look to me for a cue.

RDM

 

And we (personal not national) don't often use our BC's name - there often isn't time for name and cue. Our mongrel is mostly worked on name, come and back, only under my daughter's influence back now means left to her, not the way I used to use it. Confuses the hell out of both of us if I ever try to run her nowadays.

 

I'm not against teaching people to keep their mouth shut, just against inflexibility. We have a couple of students at present who have dogs that drop their back legs if spoken to over a jump so nagging is directed at getting them not to speak.

 

I wonder if the type of courses likely to be met has an influence on what handling style is preferred, or is it the influence of whichever "guru" is flavour of the month?

 

Of course I'm biased, but my daughter has achieved a high level of competence without learning from anyone in particular; from the age of 10 when she first started to compete she just watched and learned from many different handlers and incorporated what suited her and her dogs into her now eclectic style.

 

Me - I'm rubbish and always will be.

 

Pam

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not against teaching people to keep their mouth shut, just against inflexibility.

 

Oh geez, next time I'll use a bigger smilie. I call my teacher The Sadist for a reason (a sarcastic one, in case that's not clear) - he's excellent as both a handler and an instructor, and he's very good and fair at explaining and demonstrating. It was hard work to change my bad habits, of which I had (have? I do one particular thing with my feet in pinwheels that The Sadist has named after me, and it's not a flattering thing!) many, and undo years of lesser instruction - and I credit all my success to him. He's a wonderful man.

 

We have a couple of students at present who have dogs that drop their back legs if spoken to over a jump so nagging is directed at getting them not to speak.

 

Most dogs will drop a jump if you talk to them over it. Any instructor worth their salt will teach you first thing to never talk to the dog over a jump! Besides, if you're giving the verbal cue when your dog is already in the air, your timing is way late. What most people have the most trouble with is understanding how a sequence is actually set up successfully by how you handle the several obstacles ahead of it.

 

I don't follow a prescribed "method" - I'm not a Macklemburg disciple or a Derrett follower. I make modifications to accommodate each of my dogs. But I try to speak to my dogs as little as possible because it works better most of the time. And while it's great that some people can pick and choose between a variety of handling styles and put together something eclectic that their dog still understands, I think most people need "rules" to handle properly or they just nag their dog (at best) or confuse it totally (at worst). (And while I have certainly seen some handlers reach success doing this, whilst their dog muddles along, it's not necessarily pretty. I am hoping to one day reach the state where my run is both successful AND aesthetically pleasing to witness. So not there yet though ...)

 

Which, going back to the original question, is why I try not to throw a wild card like verbal directionals in the mix. If they are not something I use regularly, it's likely that a) I will f*ck it up when I do try to use them and :rolleyes: my dog won't take them all that seriously, or at all. But there are definitely times when I wish I had them, that's for sure!

 

RDM

Link to post
Share on other sites
<snip>when I was babbling at them on course, it was because my handling actually sucked and I overcompensated for it by talking to them. <snip>

 

Stop talking about me like that! :rolleyes:

 

My handling leaves so much to be desired, I can't even imagine adding directionals to it. But, even if I didn't suck so bad, I still don't think I'd do it. Too much room for ME to mess them up.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Oh geez, next time I'll use a bigger smilie.

 

My comment wasn't aimed at you - just at the one trick instructors who insist that their way is the only one. I've no idea if yours falls into that category. I've been on a lot of training days with various top handlers and I can only think of 2 I would class as inflexible. One of those is currently widely followed here but most people who went on that particular training day wanted something more tailored to help them as individuals.

 

Most dogs will drop a jump if you talk to them over it. Any instructor worth their salt will teach you first thing to never talk to the dog over a jump! Besides, if you're giving the verbal cue when your dog is already in the air, your timing is way late.

 

Or too early. I wouldn't say "most" dogs will drop a pole that way, although it is common, especially with inexperienced dogs.

 

I think most people need "rules" to handle properly

 

Or do anything really. If you're just starting out and don't know enough to pick and choose they can be helpful.

We start out with "always use the hand nearest the dog" and "blind crosses and turns are the work of the devil" with our newbies because it's easy for them to understand at that stage, although we know full well that we'll be telling them something different later.

 

there are definitely times when I wish I had them, that's for sure!

 

Just one more weapon in the handling armoury. Useful to have even if you rarely need to use it.

 

Pam

Link to post
Share on other sites
I would be the one who screws up directionals....say left when I mean right, etc.

 

+1.

 

I do teach a "here" and "out" that can be used for distance work or a tight discrimination, because I am less likely to make an error with these than by using "left" and "right." That said, I do my best to shut up and just run, because it always seems to work better!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not a big talker on the course, partly because my dog moves faster than my brain can (I also can't chew gum and walk at the same time). I'm always amazed at people who call every jump and every obstacle and every turn, etc. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't because I just wouldn't be able to get the words, let alone the right words, out in time. Luckily, my dog cues very well to my body language, almost too well sometimes - I sometimes pull him when I don't mean to. I do use the "turn" command when I want my dog to turn away from me and that works really well with him and almost always keeps him from taking a wrong obstacle, even if it is right in front of him. If I want him to turn towards me, I use his name. His name yanks his head towards me much better and more consistently than a "here" or "come" command. If I just need him to zig a little towards me, I say his name very softly. If I need him to make a big change in direction, I say it a little louder. Other than that, I don't use many verbal commands other than calling obstacles on occasion or saying "big" to cue him that the next jump is a double or triple jump. I don't really know if saying "big" makes a difference, but I've always done this, so I guess it's just a habit now.

 

Oh, I do use "get out" to send him away from me, too.

Link to post
Share on other sites
"blind crosses and turns are the work of the devil"

 

I still think blind crosses are the work of the devil :rolleyes: I know they use it with immense success in Europe, but I'm more inclined to find a well executed front cross does the job without encouraging my dog to ever, ever run behind me. In fact, I worked my tail off to make Piper understand that running behind me was not a good decision. Maybe it's just that I am a control freak, but when I'm running fast border collies, I prefer to see where they are at all times! ha.

 

RDM

Link to post
Share on other sites
but when I'm running fast border collies, I prefer to see where they are at all times! ha.

 

I'm with ya there, if I lose Rig I'm likely to step on him, which will usually result in him chomping me in the leg. :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Primarily body language, hand sigs and the whistle with a few voice commands. Normally I only call to Jin when I want his specific attention and when he goes astray. All directional commands are given in relation to the ball. Jin's service dog commands are whispered noises and hand sigs.

 

List of Jin's field commands

Go Way= Move left.

Come bye= Move Right

Walk On= Go straight

OutOut= go away from me

To-meTo-me= come toward me.

jump jump= jump go over designated object

slides= climb object

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a very novice handle running a dog that can get very distracted by interesting people at trials, and so I find myself hollering more than I want, but in the last year I have trained myself to keep my mouth shut as much as possible which I hope as made my hollering moments more effective. I have a video taken last year at our 3rd trial and to use an english expression I sound like a fish wife, the video taken last weekend shows a much quieter human and we Qd.

 

I have always wanted a left/right command especially for chances/gamblers but as I have a hard time remembering which is which so instead we are working on adding switch and out. Brody I have slowly realized is the type of dog that the more commands that I have the more he understands what I want, I taught him flip/turn based in Sylvia Trikmans cik/cap and he now has great tight turns. But when I walk a course I have to try really hard to remember is it a flip or a turn, so I know left and right would be a disaster. I do think Brodys need for clear verbal direction comes from our lack of a good foundation as my puppy as amazing turns based on body language.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I still think blind crosses are the work of the devil :rolleyes: I know they use it with immense success in Europe, but I'm more inclined to find a well executed front cross does the job without encouraging my dog to ever, ever run behind me. In fact, I worked my tail off to make Piper understand that running behind me was not a good decision. Maybe it's just that I am a control freak, but when I'm running fast border collies, I prefer to see where they are at all times! ha.

 

RDM

 

I agree with you, but from my lowly position in the agility heirarchy I can't really argue the point with those successful handlers who know how and when it is safe to use them and do so effectively.

 

Handlers with slow dogs can get away with them but they're the very dogs you shouldn't use them with.

 

They aren't that common any more here in the UK but from what I see of mainland European handlers they do seem to use them much more - and don't get me started on the Ketschker! I'm a great believer in the KISS approach and fancy pants manoeuvres don't impress me.

 

If anyone wants an example of why they aren't a good idea -

 

 

Pam

Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally speaking if you have to use a directional cue in particularly left or right then you are probably not where you are supposed to be to tell your dog where to go. :rolleyes: I have taught directionals but don't use them on course. It is simply my dogs left and right. Of course I have a "Go On' command but rarely use that either. I find just well excuted handling should be all you need. I am of course no brilliant handler and am still learning alot but I try to make sure my handling is correct which is difficult if you are running a really fast dog. I never say anything to my dog on course and our runs are one of the most silent I know but people always comment on that in particular because it means I am giving my dog enough information for her to know where to go in advance and it seems to really show how hard we work on our team work. Of course some dogs find chatting more helpful than hindering but my dog tends to think the latter. I just try to refrain from using them even if it means not getting a clean run as that just gives me something to work on for my next run. It is good fun to teach though even as a trick off an agility course.

 

The only other words I use on course for my oldest is her release word and her contact cue which is simply "Contact". Occassionally I will say a very quiet good girl or yes as we had shut down issues a while back. But I rarely have time to think as she is so fast and need to concentrate where I am going and remembering the course. I never ever remember the course when I have finished running or anything that happened during it as it is all just a blur.

As for my puppy all contact obstacles entail the contact (2o2o) so I don't need to ask her to do a contact as it is automatic so I just have to release her. So my runs with her are even quieter. She is a little devil when running and has an extremely serious face, so serious that I'm sure if I distracted her she would hunt me down and tell me off haha

Link to post
Share on other sites

I do use left and right with my dogs but only when I've walked the course and know where/if I'm going to use them. My body is also cueing them too though so how much of the turn is due to the directionals is debatable. There have been times when a left or right has saved my butt. I have one dog who is very literal. If I'm approaching a jump and want a right turn I have to say "over, left" because if I say "left, over" he will turn left, right in front of the jump. These two dogs are now 9.5 and 7.5 and pretty solidly trained...if/when I decide to start another dog in agility I probably won't even bother with directionals because I'm a much better handler now than I was when I was training the other two. I don't think I'd need them. Maybe a generic "turn" command though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I use body language and verbal cues.

 

I taught my dog left and right, but never use it

on the course (we are moving too fast!)

 

I do use "go" (move ahead of me), out (move latterly out)

and here (come in to me).

 

The cue I find the most useful is TURN.

Turn means for my dog to turn away from me,

depending on which side she is on. If she is on my left

she turns left; if she is on my right she turns right.

I use this cue on probably every other course we run.

I do more rear crosses than front crosses. I almost always

use the turn cue in conjunction with a rear cross motion.

(I follow her motion with my motion)

 

The turn cue is really useful when she is out ahead of me -

I can cue a rear cross or turn more easily. I also use it on

the flat sometimes. (before a jump)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Generally speaking if you have to use a directional cue in particularly left or right then you are probably not where you are supposed to be to tell your dog where to go. :rolleyes:

 

Directional cues are a necessity when working your dog from a good 30' or more away from them. Our movement and body language is still important, but a good directional command is still needed, as are obstacle discrimination and the like.

 

Just because you may have not yet found a use for directional commands, does not mean that some of us don't use them on a very regular basis.

Link to post
Share on other sites

^^ Agreed. I've seen cases where the dog is so far away (ahead and laterally) that people used directionals with great success. I will never be one of those people. :rolleyes::D I'm just too directionally challenged. :D I do like the idea of having a "turn" command to cue a RC if the dog is way ahead. I may build on that.

 

For our groundwork, we have a "turn" for a turn into me and a "switch" for her turning away from me. I've never actually put them to use though. Hmmm... :D

Link to post
Share on other sites
Directional cues are a necessity when working your dog from a good 30' or more away from them. Our movement and body language is still important, but a good directional command is still needed, as are obstacle discrimination and the like.

 

Just because you may have not yet found a use for directional commands, does not mean that some of us don't use them on a very regular basis.

 

I know that I don't need them. I disagree with your first statement, if you are consistent with your handling you should be able to direct the dog with just that. Also the general out and here command but the left and right doesn't really need to be used. Perhaps some people don't have a way of handling their dog that is very consistent but I try to maintain a particular method that the dog will always be familiar with and it works at a distance. Change of arm means turn so it makes sense that a straight one means keep going, if your dog can understand that there is no need for a left or right. As for obstacle discrimination that goes back to basic training, just simply teaching your dog the name of the obstacle coupled with your handling will get you and your dog through a discrimination. I am not saying generic agility commands are not useful just the left and right tends to be a last resort when you can't be in the right place to tell your dog where to go. I'm sure I would get told I was lazy by numerous instructors if I used Left and Right instead of working to get in the right positional cue. I'm not saying they don't work for some but they sure aren't a necessity. I could direct my dog through a serp on the other side of a course if I needed to with just my arm changes. Why would I trade that for a left or right command?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...